Blah, Blah, Blah, WHAT?!
Were you ever at a train station trying to purchase tickets but couldn’t understand anything the teller was telling you? Were you ever lost in a city because you couldn’t read the street names? Although traveling is fun and it allows you to discover new things, you will indeed encounter some difficult moments, one being a language barrier.
There is no right or wrong way to get ready to face a language barrier. But the essential is to somehow prepare yourself for the challenge if you know you’ll be facing it. From personal experience, I normally refer to my travel guide to learn the key words such as please, thank you, where is, etc. You may not be able to put a sentence together but you’ll be polite at the least, and that is always appreciated, regardless of the culture.
Understanding the culture you will be visiting is also key when visiting a country, whether you are facing a language barrier or not. For example, expect a South American to stand close to you when entertaining a conversation. Or when in Asia, you’ll notice locals smiling at you, even if they don’t understand what you’re saying. Research social etiquette of that particular country because you’ll be heavily relying on non-verbal communication if you don’t speak the language.
Patience is a virtue. You’ll quickly learn this when struggling to find simple words of a foreign language. Don’t panick, simply take your time to get your message across but do try! If you don’t try, you’ll never learn! And for the record, if you do sound like a fool, who cares? You don’t know anyone and you’ll just look back at it and laugh. Laughing is good medicine :)